She watched the end of her toes shuffle and appear alternately from under her long hijab. Everything looked blue from behind her veil. She held the blue in her mind and gathered it, pouring it down to her heart, beating hard, a bird caught in a trap. The dry heat of the desert, heavy, penetrating, pressed every inch of her skin, but still a cold sweat rippled slowly from beneath the surface where her blood pulsed, like a snake, thick, wet, dark, blue and coiling, not yet red with oxygen.
She knelt in the ancient dust of the desert at the appointed time, in the appointed place, remembering her body squatting to ease the way for her child when it was time. She knelt and saw the face of that child, imagined her growing tall, imagined one day being her blue shadow, low and shifting with her movements, cool and comforting – thought of the warm golden sun that would still be there.
Janan couldn’t look at the gathering crowd, she felt them and heard the black stones they carried, rattling in their sacks. She watched her hands come together, blue in her lap where she had been forced by a stranger to open there – there where the inside of her legs were bruised black and blue for days after. She drove the blue down into her black, spinning gut and remembered lying on her back that night, pinned down, her eyes blinking open to the round whiteness of the moon – the flat fear of not being able to move.
Now, in broad daylight she was alone with it again, dark and hard. She shut her eyes to be one with it, easing herself into the world of shade. When the storm of black stones began to rain on her, she imagined herself as part of the flashing of a meteor shower her daughter would watch on some distant love-filled night.
Carole is a Ph.D. in English candidate at Claremont Graduate University. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing (poetry and fiction) and a post-MFA Certificate in Creative Writing Pedagogy from Antioch University Los Angeles. She lives in Santa Monica, California.